“My deepest fear is that I’ll look back on my life and wonder what I did with it.”
I first encountered this quote about three years ago as I was dragged behind my brother at the Danbury Fair Mall College Fair. It is emblazoned over a picture of an F-22 Raptor on the cover of an Air Force ROTC brochure. “Cool,” I thought, shoving it into my rapidly over-filling bag of college handouts destined for the back of my closet. “But I think I’m going to try and tackle the whole ‘talking to girls’ thing first – Oh! Hey Cailin, uh, nice… um, nice shoes! Er, um, I mean sandals! Uh, uh, I like your hair? Uh, bye!” Well done, you devilish seducer. You really shouldn’t play with her emotions like that, it’s just too easy.
Fast forward to the start of my Junior year. Girls still tend to squabble over my attention, I guess my irresistible charm is still there.
However, suddenly Mr. Suave here has realized something – there’s only two years until High School ends. Which means, college starts in two years. Don’t you have to have a major in college? What happens… after college? That’s when I dove back into my closet and rediscovered the AFROTC brochure.
Today, the brochure is taped above the mirror on my door. Every day as I walk out of my room, I see it and am reminded of what it really means to me. What will I do in my life? What is going to set me apart from the other 6.8 billion people in our world? I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t want to dread waking up every morning. I don’t want to doubt myself in anything I do. I don’t want to reflect on life as an old man and think, “Wow, what a let down.”
No. I will accomplish something. Whatever that something is, you can be sure that I will give it everything I have. I will inspire people, and I will be inspired. I will lead people. I will create something, invent something, design something, discover something – I will do something! I will be able to talk to a girl! No, wait, I already do that just fine. I swear.
The road to future success is not always paved, however. I throw myself into everything I do, automatically expecting success. But there are days when that success isn’t there. There was the time that I devoted my Friday nights to a tutor for 2 months and couldn’t crack 30 on the ACTs. There was the time I was trusted as a sophomore to go in during the state lacrosse semifinals, and promptly dropped the first pass that came to me. I spilled soup on a customer the first night of my new job as a busboy, and forgot the second “u” in “vacuum” in the fifth grade spelling bee. There are always days when you are going to fly like a bowling ball. But instead of letting these failures get to you, I’ve learned that you have to dig yourself out of your smoldering crater, and get back up to the cliff you jumped from as fast as possible to try again. Success for me is directly proportional to the effort that I expend to get it.
Now, I am not going to say that I’m going to cure cancer, usher in world peace, turn lead into gold, or find a wormhole to the 11th dimension. I may not move a mountain, but I’m going to clear out some pretty sizable chunks. And no matter what challenge I face, I will face it with confidence, knowing that I have prepared myself adequately. There will be highs, and most definitely some stumbles and low points, but at the end of my journey I will be laughing and shouting: “Let’s do it again!” I am going to make sure that my deepest fear never comes true.
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